It’s amazing that we are now on series ten of Jago and Litefoot. It was only five years ago that there was the pilot in the Companion Chronicles and the setup of two series a year would have hurt other series yet this style seems to have suited this range. The ninth series was somewhat of a disappointment if I am being honest. I think that it might require a second listen but my immediate impression was that Jago and Litefoot on a cruise was a missed opportunity. Including The Mahogany Murderers and the two Voyage stories that Jago and Litefoot had with the Sixth Doctor in 2012, there have been 39 adventures with our favourite dynamic duo. Part of me was hoping that this series would show that the previous series was a blip which does seem the case because on the whole the first eight series have all been very good.
The opening story of this series is The Case of the Missing Gasogene and first off there is the question of what a Gasogene actually is. I thought that it was something that has been made up but thanks to the wonder of Wikipedia it confirms that it was a late Victorian device for producing Carbonated water. The story introduces Carruthers Summerton played superbly by Toby Hadoke. Summerton is following Jago and Litefoot around while they investigate the death of some rich guy’s manservant. It was a good opening story and comforted me to know that the series was back on track. With this being the 39th story for these two, both Trevor Baxter and Christopher Benjamin are allowed to have fun with their characters as they have differing opinions as to how to proceed with Summerton volleying between the two camps. What Simon Barnard & Paul Morris have managed to do is to write a story that feels like it has some new ideas yet slot it perfectly well into a traditional setting like Jago and Litefoot. Had I not known that the character of Summerton would be back in the series then I would have said that his use was rather disappointing because there was clearly something more to him. Thankfully there is going to be more and so there is the potential for a new story arc involving this character. There was something that reminded me of the character Huxley from the companion chronicle stories Ringpullworld (2009) and Find and Replace (2010).
The second part is The Year of the Bat which sees Jago and Litefoot send letters to themselves in an attempt to change certain things in their pasts. Now there is argument that could be made that changing the events of your history is a dangerous thing but that sort of thought should be left to the main Doctor Who range. As long as you don’t give this too much thought then the story is another highly enjoyable story. The performances from Christopher Benjamin and Trevor Baxter are great as usual but credit should go to Blake Ritson and Alex Lowe who play Young Litefoot and Young Jago respectively. They give an idea of what a companion chronicle with these two would be like if they weren’t with us.
The third story was the weakest in my opinion. The Mourning After has a cracking pre-title scene where Litefoot and Ellie are at the funeral of Jago but the twist is that Jago has been buried alive and when the theme tune ends he is released from his torture but is rather distressed to be in the year 2000. I am a little disappointed because I felt that there was some potential to have this linked with the previous story because of the history that they messed around with in that story it could quite easily have been an easy story to write. It wasn’t a terrible story by any means because it was written by James Goss who is a writer that I like because he can tell good stories. The fact that David Warner made a return was one of the things that I liked because David Warner is never rubbish and I liked how there was a mystery as to whether his character could be trusted. It’s clear that he isn’t being as honest as he could be. There are zombies in this story which is being linked to Betterman but beyond that there doesn’t seem to be much to take from this story.
The final story of the series is arguably the best because it feels like a greatest hits album. The Museum of Curiosities sees the true intentions of Carrthurs Summerton. I like how he has set up a museum with all the bits and pieces associated with previous adventures and various villains that they have encountered. It’s a story that builds up to a great conclusion and its towards the end that Betterman’s true colours are shown and that he has been manipulated. I thought that this episode did a great job of ending the character of Summerton. It seemed like Toby Hadoke was having the time of his life playing this role. As various references to previous stories kept popping up it was fun trying to remember which story it was referring to and what happened in that particular story. It was another sound story and it had a great cliffhanger which saw the appearance of the Master which totally had me shocked and made me wish that Series 11 was released tomorrow.
Overall this series has been a return to form. This series felt like classic Jago and Litefoot and the stories have all felt like new ideas and what is a relief is that even after ten series it doesn’t feel like the series is running out of ideas and coming across as stale. Another success for Big Finish.